Learn From Kindergarten: Future Workplaces Will Focus on the Human Experience & Continuous Learning

“Industry 4.0” is transforming the very nature of work across all industries in the early 21st century. New workplace realities are compelling companies to find the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. 

Just over 1% of jobs created this year did not exist last year. Twelve percent of all jobs companies will need in 2030 do not presently exist. Technological change is accelerating, as is technology-driven disruption across industries. Companies will find attracting and retaining the talent they need increasingly challenging.

Leaders in Human Capital can pull five levers in their efforts to acquire the skills needed: Retrain, Redeploy, Hire, Contract, and/or Release. Hiring may seem like the obvious answer, but the cost of hiring new employees can average $4,000 per employee and take up to 52 days. Also, when key talent leaves, it can cost between 50-60% of the employees' salary and take up to six months to get new employees up to speed. One alternative to hiring new talent, is retraining and redeploying existing talent, thus avoiding the costs of recruiting and capitalizing on the current staff’s cultural alignment.

Retraining and redeploying talent requires a commitment from leaders to treat continuous learning as a core part of their business strategy and culture; thereby enabling employees to acquire the skills they need to meet the business challenges of tomorrow.

How can CRE and the workplace support this strategy? Are the work environments we are creating today suited to supporting continuous learning or are they suited to task-based work? Where should we look for guidance in creating learning environments?

Like so many things, everything we need to know about the workplace of the future we can learn from kindergarten.

Teachers and education professionals also play a role in preparing young talent for the future of work. Modern curriculums, especially in early-education, are prioritizing critical thinking, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence skills. Instead of memorizing facts, students are learning to ask "why", "how", and "what if" and to work with others to explore environments and develop creative solutions to the world around them.

Early education and kindergarten classrooms encourage this behavior by providing students with the ability to hack their environment to fit their needs and to provide a physical environment that is both collaborative and that provides places for retreat, reading and reflection. Many spaces consider the whole person, encouraging physical movement, emotional reflection and interpersonal conflict resolution, inspiration, and intellectual curiosity. As anyone who has been in an elementary school can tell you, the spaces are colorful, inspirational, and proudly celebrate the students’ work. Often, acknowledging process and effort over achievement builds grit and resilience by cultivating a growth mindset over a fixed mindset. By encouraging curiosity and exploration over memorization, educators and leaders alike can develop a workforce ready to meet the challenges of the future.

There are lessons learned in kindergarten that remain applicable for all of us today, but particularly among workplace strategists, designers, and business leaders.
Dunsmore-Madeline-Headshot-2.jpgMadeline Dunsmore
Regional Workplace Manager

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